Indore, Sept. 28 -- The fight for the middle order is getting intense. After Virender Sehwag announced his intentions with a quick fifty at No 4, Yuvraj Singh scored a blistering 84 at the same spot on Friday as his India Blue beat India Red by 11 runs to enter the final of the Challenger Trophy.
The old guard might be trying to fight their way back into the team with bold strokeplay since their fitness levels pale in comparison to that of the acrobatic youngsters. Like Sehwag, Yuvraj was in an aggressive mood although he had to overcome a shaky start against the pace of Umesh Yadav.
With both Sehwag and Yuvraj not able to move as fast as they could earlier, two of the selectors here, Sandeep Patil and Rajinder Hans, will be tempted to look at the youngsters too, especially for the forthcoming Australia ODIs.
Reds' Abhinav Mukund made almost a run-a-ball 83, Smit Patel a 67 while Blues' opener Akshath Reddy impressed with an 84. Seasoned at 29, Abhishek Nayar was the star for the Blues, hitting a blazing 75 off 39 balls.
The selectors may yet consider the older men keeping in mind the popularity that comes with their aggression. They'd already given Yusuf Pathan that benefit by appointing him the captain of India Red.
He was struggling throughout as the Blues started well with Reddy and Manish Pandey putting on 143 for the second wicket.
The tempo was carried on by Yuvraj and Nayar but in more murderous fashion. The duo plundered over 150 in 13 overs.
Chasing 346 was tough but the outfield and track made things manageable. Patel and Mukund dug in to stitch a century partnership for the second wicket. The momentum on, it was up to Yusuf now.
But, walking in to replace an injured Patel ahead of specialist batsmen, he did what a skipper isn't supposed to, display indiscretion.
That set the Reds back and although a late charge by the lower order saw them make a match of it, they were always playing the chasing game.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.